Book Review – Kakistocracy

Next up is a book that I just read last month – Kakistocracy by Alex Shvartsman. This is book 2 of the Conradverse Chronicles and you can read my review of the first book, The Middling Affliction, over here (paid links). I also want to thank NetGalley for providing this book to me in exchange for an honest review.

I read the e-book edition.

Here is the blurb:

If you do it well, lying is every bit as effective as magic.

Conrad Brent has no innate magic, so he bluffs a lot and uses a myriad of magical items to protect Brooklyn from monsters and arcane threats. As a member of the Watch, the group that protects the mundane humans from such dangers, he risks his life on a regular basis. Sometimes twice before lunch. Sometimes during lunch, when he dares order his food from a street cart.

After regaining his position in the Watch which he’d temporarily lost due to the machinations of a variety of evil-doers, Conrad doesn’t want to take any risks he doesn’t have to. But now his boss is missing, there’s a totalitarian new regime in City Hall oppressing all magic users, and the mayor has aligned himself with a diabolical villain.

In order to save the day, Conrad must team up with a recovering necromancer to mediate a dispute between two ancient enemy factions, solve a mystery of a warded house adjacent to a cemetery, and stand with his friends against tyranny.

That is, if the interdimensional fae assassins don’t get him first.

I had enjoyed the first book in this series and was hopeful that the second installment would continue in the same vein. Fortunately, Kakistocracy lived up to and exceeded my expectations! This volume felt more polished with a smoothly moving plot, although I think that may be because I already knew the rules of this world and the characters.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was how the necromancer, Moira, decides to try to be one of the good guys. Like the first book, Kakistocracy continues to examine what it means to be a hero and the different ways that one can act heroically.

Even though I felt like the plot moved forward smoothly, that didn’t mean it lacked twists and complications. Conrad is pulled in different directions by his obligations, his limitations as a middling who cannot do magic, and his personal feelings. I also loved the plot device where he loses several months in the faerie realm and has to reorient himself to all the changes that have occurred to New York City during his time away.

The humor also continues in this book, but I think there may have been fewer pop culture references (if that’s your thing). The immediate story is wrapped up by the end of the book, but still leaves room for more. I expect we’ll get to see more books in the Conradverse Chronicles in the future.

Have you read the first book or any of the author’s short stories? Let me know in the comments (above).

Read more of my reviews here.

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